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Case study - Setting a cloud strategy for the future

Who we are

We are a National Research Institute with around 1,500 researchers and employees. As a public funded body, we have to procure ICT goods and services according to national law. The institute’s IT department is responsible for identifying technical requirements and drafting specifications for the services to acquire.

The legal department provides support for procurement and legal procedures.

» For procurement actions under €90,000 the IT department can select three suppliers and request for three offers.

» For procurement above €90,000 the IT department needs the support of the legal service department and goes through a public tender.

» For tenders between €90,000 and €133,000 the tender must be advertised through the national public portal.

» For tenders above €133,000, the European rules need to be followed and the institute is obliged to publish the tender at a European level.

Why the cloud?

Our institution has never procured cloud services and currently we do not have the in-house skills to carry this out. At the time of writing, we do not need to procure cloud services as either in-house solutions suffice or services are already provided by our national telecommunications network for technology, education and research. Services include e-mail, directory, instant messaging, shared calendars, task management, document sharing (cloud), video conferencing.

Having said this, we believe that cloud can reduce the cost of IT server maintenance and safety and can make data more durable. It will let us archive data properly with common standards and it can improve our data sharing system. It will also help us deal with on-the-spot requests from our researchers for the acquisition of cloud services. However, we see a series of barriers including data security, trust and management and cultural/disciplinary uses of researchers. Data security is a high priority. We manage sensitive data which are very strategic from a policy perspective.

We also have a lot of personal data collected through the periodic surveys that we perform in our research and which we cannot disclose to external organisations. Despite these barriers, we strongly believe that to get concrete benefits from cloud adoption we need to implement a comprehensive cloud strategy. Therefore, we are currently working on a strategy for a sovereign cloud (national and beyond European). We plan to participate in the “pooling” of the services of the national telecommunications network for technology, education and research.

This transition from an internal system to one which is completely outsourced will make it possible to devote key computing resources to other high-value added tasks such as data mining. We also plan to participate in the sharing of services proposed by national networks, which are involved in European networks.